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  • Author or Editor: Bridget K. Behe* x
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Tissue-cultured plugs of Nandina domestica Thunb. `Hat-hour Dwarf' and `San Gabriel' were grown in 1.5-liter pots under 30%, 47%, or 62% shade. After 20 weeks, plants were moved to a simulated consumer environment (SCE) maintained at 21C, ≈60% relative humidity, and a 12-hour photoperiod with an irradiance of 7 μmol·m -2·s-1. Final quality ratings (after 35 weeks in the SCE) for both cultivars were good, but the plant quality of `San Gabriel' declined more quickly than that of `Harbour Dwarf'. Final quality rating of `Harbour Dwarf' grown under the highest percentage of shade was higher than that of plants grown under 30% or 47% shade; production shade percentages had no influence on the final quality rating of `San Gabriel'. Plants (of both cultivars) grown in 0.6-liter (11-cm-diameter) pots were test-marketed through six supermarket floral departments and captured 16% of total 10- to 11-cm-size foliage plant sales. Sixty percent of consumers indicated the plant's “newness” as the primary consideration for its purchase. These two N. domestica cultivars could be marketed successfully as interior foliage plants.

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Consumer flower-color preferences are of interest to market researchers, plant producers, and retailers because this information can help them to anticipate accurately the sales product mix. Our objective was to determine consumer bract-color preferences for 47 poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) cultivars. Visitors (124) to the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio, rated `Sonora', a red cultivar, highest (4.6 of 5.0) of any cultivar. Nine of ten highest rated cultivars were red. We compared the ratings of poinsettia buyers with those of nonpoinsettia buyers and found only one difference: nonpoinsettia buyers rated `Jingle Bells III', a marble cultivar, higher (4.3) than poinsettia buyers (3.8). We also compared consumers who had purchased a red poinsettia to those who had purchased nonred colors and found that red poinsettia buyers rated `Sonora' higher (4.9) than nonred poinsettia buyers (4.5). Men rated `Red Elegance' higher (3.7) than women (3.3), whereas women rated `Freedom White' higher (3.1) than men (2.4). We found few differences between men and women, buyers and nonbuyers, and nonred buyers and red buyers, which may indicate a relatively homogeneous market that does not greatly differentiate among poinsettia bract color.

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Two surveys (one of 101 florists and one of 122 businesses) determined that florists spend little time or money recruiting commercial accounts. Poor communication among businesses and florists was a problem. Of the responding businesses, 91% were never contacted by their florists for any reason, and the methods florists did use for recruiting commercial accounts were incompatible with the means that businesses used to choose florists. Because 79% of businesses made some type of purchase from a florist during the year, florists could pursue commercial accounts as a way of increasing sales. When recruiting new accounts, florists should consider businesses' product preferences, peak gift-giving times, and purchasing preferences.

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Declining bee populations has garnered media attention, which has pressured plant retailers to ask or demand the reduction or elimination of neonicotinoid insecticide use in greenhouse production. This study investigated consumer perspectives on eco-friendly ornamental plant production practices in combination with a variety of insect management practices. Data from an online study were collected from 1555 Americans in May 2015. Over half (55%), nearly half (48.2%), and more than 30% of the participants felt that “bees are not harmed,” “better for the environment,” or “plants that attract bees,” respectively, was a characteristic of bee-friendly insect management practices. The latter group erroneously confused bee-friendly insect management practices with plants that are a potential food source for bees. When asked to rate various insect management plant production practices on a five-point Likert scale, consumer mean scores were positive (defined here as 3.5 to 5.0) for “plants grown using bee-friendly insect management practices,” “plants grown using insect management strategies that are safe for pollinators,” “plants grown using best insect management practices to protect pollinators,” and “plants grown using insect management practices that leaves no insecticide residue on the plant.” Plant species accounted for 31.6% of the decision to purchase the plant, followed by price (25.1%), insect management strategy (23.3%), and eco-friendly practices (20.1%) that was similar to prior published findings. Analyses showed that plants labeled as “grown using bee-friendly insect management practices” were worth $0.26, $0.26, $0.89, and $1.15 more than plants labeled as “grown in a sustainably produced potting soil/mix,” “grown using recycled/recaptured water,” “grown using protective neonicotinoid insecticides,” and “grown using traditional insect management practices,” respectively. In addition, plants labeled as “grown using best insect management practices to protect pollinators” were worth $0.10, $0.10, $0.73, and $0.99 more than plants labeled as “grown in a sustainably produced potting soil/mix,” “grown using recycled/recaptured water,” “grown using protective neonicotinoid insecticides,” and “grown using traditional insect management practices,” respectively. Thus, selected insect management strategies were valued more, on average, than eco-friendly production practices.

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Fresh and processed tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) consumption has increased 40% in the United States over the last two decades. Through better breeding, fresh tomatoes now are marketed in different forms, sizes, colors, and flavors. However, little published information exists concerning consumer demand, preference, and demographic characteristics related to fresh tomato consumption. Taking advantage of a high percentage of Internet use in the U.S., two web-based surveys were released to approximately 6000 e-mail addresses reaching people in every region of the U.S. The surveys contained a total of 61 questions, including 50 digital images of five types of tomatoes (cherry, grape, cluster, plum, and regular slicing) with combinations of three additional factors (price, lycopene content, and production style) and demographic information. Among 389 respondents, 76% preferred and purchased slicing tomatoes in the 4 weeks prior to the survey. These were followed by grape/mini-pear (42%), plum (36%), cluster (27%), cherry (25%), and yellow slicing tomatoes (4.4%). Overall, production method (organic vs. conventional) had low relative importance in comparison to price and tomato type. However, younger participants (<age 38 years) placed more importance on production method. Participants between ages 39 and 57 years were the most price-sensitive, and female were less sensitive than males. Younger participants (<age 38 years) were less price-sensitive and placed more importance on the other attributes (production method, lycopene content, and tomato type).

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Four-inch (10.2-cm) potted floweringCampanula carpatica Jacq. 'Blue Clips' (campanula) traditional herbaceous perennials, were sold in floral departments of three retail supermarket chain stores from 5 May through 20 May and 16 June through 1 July 2000. The intent was to determine whether repositioning campanula as a “new” indoor flowering potted plant would add to total floral department sales or detract from sales of more traditional flowering potted plants. Unit sales for all 4- and 4.5-inch (10.2- and 11.3-cm) flowering potted plants stocked in three supermarket floral departments were recorded weekly and compared with unit sales from three stores where campanula were not sold (control). Unit sales for campanula were similar to those of traditional indoor flowering potted plants frequently stocked in floral departments. Statistical analysis showed that mean unit sales of traditional potted flowering plants for stores that did and did not stock campanula were similar. Therefore, adding campanula to the flowering potted plant mix did not detract from or jeopardize sales of similar indoor flowering potted plants.

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Determining consumer preferences for specific plant attributes and plant use can assist in the development of breeding program objectives and marketing strategies. Consumers in Ames, Iowa participated in an intercept-survey to determine their knowledge of, use of, and preference for several varieties of New Guinea Impatiens (Impatiens × hawkeri). Of the population surveyed, 44% had never seen New Guinea Impatiens. Of those that had previously purchased New Guineas, 40% purchased their plants from a retail greenhouse. Outdoor container plantings were the preferred use of New Guinea Impatiens. Mother's Day was chosen by 88% of the respondents as the most appropriate holiday for a gift purchase. Considering plant characteristics, consumers rated condition of the plant as the most important attribute, followed by flower color, flower number, and price. Consumers were asked to rate plants on display comprised of three factors: flower color, leaf variegation, and price. MANOVA was used to determine the most important factor and the trade-off consumers made when expressing a preference for one plant over another.

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Neonicotinoids have recently been implicated by the media as a contributing factor to the decline of honey and bumblebees. We sought to better understand consumer perceptions and willingness to pay for traditional, neonicotinoid-free, bee-friendly, or biological control pest management practices as growers may seek alternative management practices to systemetic insecticides. We conducted a nationwide Internet survey (n = 3082), where consumers answered attitudinal, comprehension, likelihood-to-buy, and demographical questions about indoor (marketed in 10-cm pots) and outdoor (marketed in 30-cm hanging baskets or 10-cm pots) floriculture products. The likelihood-to-buy questions were analyzed using conjoint analysis to determine which attributes had the greatest part-worth scores or which ones were viewed most positively by survey respondents. Of the total participants, 65.1% (n = 2002) of the subjects had purchased an annual flowering plant in the 12 months before the survey. Respondents reported that the most important plant health and appearance factors that affect their purchasing decisions were that the flowering plants have no plant damage, while the second most important factor was that plants have no insects on them. The least important factor in the ranking of stated importance was that no neonicotinoid insecticides were used during the production of the plant. This finding may have resulted from 56.6% of all participants who reported that they did not understand the term. For those who viewed the indoor 10-cm flowering plants (n = 1052), the plant species accounted for 41.2% of the decision to purchase the plant, followed by production type (32.8%) and price (26.0%). All three product attributes were of equal importance to the subjects who viewed the outdoor 10-cm flowering plants (n = 1024), whereas only price had a lower relative importance when compared with production type and species for those who viewed the 30-cm hanging baskets (n = 1006). Across all three studies, use of the term “bee-friendly” had the greatest economic value because it had the highest part-worth utility score, or the greatest willingness-to-buy. For the subjects who viewed the outdoor plants, “bee-friendly” and “use of beneficial insects” had greater economic value (with positive part-worth utility scores), but “neonicotinoid-free” and “traditional insect control” both had negative part-worth utility scores, indicating they were valued less and detracted from the dollar value of the plant. The term “bee-friendly” was worth up to five times more to those respondents that had bought a plant in the last 12 months compared with those who had not. Therefore, if ornamental plants are labeled with pest management practices, most consumers value the term “bee-friendly” more and will likely discount products labeled “neonicotinoid-free.”

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Choice experiments were conducted to explore the market potential or value added when using longevity information and guarantees on cut flower arrangements in the retail setting. The objective of our study was to determine consumer preferences and willingness to pay for different vase life longevities and guarantees on cut flower arrangements. The choice experiment data were collected using online surveys with 525 U.S. consumers in July 2011. The choice experiment scenarios included single species or mixed species cut flower arrangements with varying vase life longevity (5 to 7 days, 8 to 10 days, 11 to 14 days), presence or absence of vase life longevity guarantee, personal or gift use, and price range ($7.99 to $11.99, $34.99 to $43.99). Two types of arrangements were used in the experiment, mixed arrangements consisting of different species of cut flowers and single-species arrangements consisting of six red roses plus a filler flower. We analyzed the data with a mixed logit model and Ward’s linkage cluster analysis. As expected, participants were willing to pay higher prices for cut flower arrangements with longer vase life longevity. The presence of a guarantee improved participants’ probability of selecting the corresponding cut flower arrangement. Using Ward’s linkage cluster analysis, we found there were three distinct consumer clusters: guarantee seekers (49% of the sample), value-conscious consumers (31%), and spenders (20%). Among the three clusters, guarantee seekers were more likely to select cut flower arrangements with guarantees. Value-conscious consumers were interested in both guarantees and longevity indicators. Spenders were least interested in longevity indicators and guarantees. We conclude floral retailers could successfully implement the use of longevity indicators and guarantees to increase consumer interest in cut flowers and generate profits. Target marketing strategies could then be developed by floral retailers to attract different consumer clusters.

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Six hundred homeowners, equally divided among rural, suburban, and urban areas in Minnesota responded to a 1999 phone survey on their lawn size, maintenance practices, and the perceived environmental impact of their lawns. The average lawn size was estimated to be 0.62 acres (0.25 ha), with an estimated 872,660 total acres (353,427 ha) in home lawns in Minnesota. Annual spending on lawn care per home was about $200, with an estimated $150 million spent annually in Minnesota. Participants reported low maintenance practices and pesticide use. A majority thought fertilizers and pesticides were harmful to the environment and public health. Respondents felt strongly that the government has a right to regulate fertilizers and pesticides in public park and lawn areas, but were divided with regard to the appropriateness of regulation on private property. Many (78.9%) disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that their lawn was harmful to the environment. Most (60%) felt their lawn could have an effect on the environment and 71% felt they personally could make a difference in the environment by how they maintained their lawn.

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